Freshwater in Florida: Lane Kiffin & the Start of Something Great at Florida Atlantic

The Florida Atlantic Owls were very bad (3-9) in 2016, leading to the firing of head coach Charlie Partridge. The Owls would go on to make headlines for arguably the first time ever by naming controversial figure Joey Freshwater a.k.a. Lane Kiffin as their head coach. They stayed in the headlines by bringing in Kendal Briles to be offensive coordinator from Sexual Assault U, otherwise known as Baylor University. Briles, who is the son of  former Baylor head coach Art Briles, is facing a lawsuit after reportedly saying to a recruit (maybe multiple) “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.” During Briles time at Baylor, recruits were ‘allegedly’ consistently taken to strip clubs, used alcohol and drugs, and made women sexually available through their hostess program. So, mixing ole Joey Freshwater with this guy has to be a recipe for success, right?

Well, FAU’s rare time in the spotlight did not end there as the dynamic duo of Freshwater and Briles have created a 4-year Last Chance U in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida. Kiffin signed eight junior college (JUCO) transfers including several players with less-than-immaculate disciplinary records. This class is highlighted by Last Chance U, EMCC, quarterback De’Andre Johnson, who is hoping to become a redemption story after being dismissed from Florida State after punching a woman. The link to this video is below. Don’t click if you do not want to see a girl get nailed. Another highlight from this class is Deandre McNeal, a 4-star receiver out of high school who was dismissed from Texas for a violation of team rules before playing a season of JUCO football and finally choosing FAU over UCLA. A 3rd player is Tim Bonner, another Last Chance U product, who was dismissed from Louisville following an incident surrounding a gun. To keep with the Last Chance U theme, Kiffin also brought in QB coach Clint Trickett from EMCC to be the Tight Ends coach for the Owls. Kiffin appears to be all about second chances as the coach of the Owls, as he should be considering this is his fourth chance at being a head coach.

This class, which is loaded with JUCO transfers and other 3 stars, was ranked the best class in the Conference USA. How could you not sign the best class in the conference with a hype video of this quality? Please click the link below and watch this. It is 100% worth your time. Also, can you guess what the best recruiting class in the CUSA is ranked nationally? 71st. The future of the CUSA is very bright, my friends.

However, if we avoid the controversies and character flaws with many of these new additions and focus on simply the product on the field, there is no way this team will not be significantly improved in 2017. Lane Kiffin and Kendal Briles have led two of the most dynamic offenses in the country over the past several years, and both have thrived when using a dual-threat quarterback like a De’Andre Johnson. Briles’ QBs at Baylor rushed for 506 yards in 2016 and 712 in 2015, and everyone saw what Kiffin did with freshman Jalen Hurts a year ago.

Image result for deandre johnson emcc

De’Andre Johnson is a straight up winner. This is a guy who has lost one game in his entire high school and JUCO career. From the documentary, Johnson has a clear ability to be a vocal leader of the team. When he talks, people listen. He inspires his teammates to play better and does not get rattled in pressure moments. Along with Johnson, FAU is predicted by Athlon Sports to have the best running back unit in the conference, returning a stud RB in Devin Singletary who along with Buddy Howell ran for 1,849 yards and 25 touchdowns a season ago. An almost entirely new receiving corps led by potential star Deandre McNeal should provide Johnson with reliable options throwing the ball as well.

The bottom line is this offense is going to put points on the board, especially in the C USA. However, this is a defense that gave up 40 points a game a year ago. The defense is projected to start mostly upper classmen, but when the defense was torched a year ago with these players on the field, that is not necessarily a positive. The improvement made on that side of the ball will be much more indicative of how this season turns out for the Fighting Freshwaters.

FAU will win 8 games in year 1 of the Kiffin era.

Everyone knows the best way to rebuild quickly is by recruiting JUCO players, who are closer to game ready than freshmen would be. That is the route that Kiffin took, getting a number of quality players who were cast away from Power 5 schools. Athlon Sports predicts this team will finish at 6-6, which would be a 3-win improvement for this football team in year 1 under Lane Kiffin. However, this team, led by offensive minds in Kiffin and Briles and talent at skill positions that will be elite for this conference, should find a way to win 8 games. Their schedule is not set up for success as they start with Navy and Wisconsin, which should be losses. They play on the road at WKU and LA Tech, who are the two favorites to win the conference. Games at Old Dominion and home vs. MTSU should also be tough games for the Owls. But at the end of the day, De’Andre Johnson is an elite talent who is going to keep the Owls in virtually every game they play. Couple that with the weapons he has at his disposal at skill positions, and this is a team that will definitely surprise some people in the Conference USA in 2017 and easily make it to a bowl game.


Over/Under Win Predictions for SEC Football

The critically-acclaimed podcast that nobody’s talking about is now in blog form. This blog will provide our very amateur takes on the latest developments in sports. So, if you get sick of listening to Kam and J. Morgan ramble on and on about teams they know little about, come check out the key highlights here. Written by Head Intern Zach.

In the coming weeks, we will have college football conference previews. We will discuss the upcoming MLB trade deadline, which teams should be buyers and sellers, who made the best moves, etc. We will be tracking the NFL preseason workouts and keeping up with any major developments there as well. And of course, there will be plenty of discussion about the McGregor/Mayweather fight.

Now for the good stuff, Over/Under win predictions for each SEC football team. You’re going to want to put the mortgage down on these picks because we’re going 14-0. 

And don’t fear, its not Kam making these predictions. Its the Head Intern.

Alabama: 10.5 (Over): Alabama is my favorite to win the national championship this season, so taking the over seems like a no-brainer here. I could see this team running the table and getting to 12 wins and cruising above the over. Bama’s toughest challenges will be the season opener against Florida State in Atlanta and the Iron Bowl at Auburn against a talented Auburn team who should get legitimate QB play from Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham. Bama’s only other road matchups are Vandy, A&M, and Miss State, so you have to like the Tide’s odds this season.

Auburn: 9 (Under): While Jarret Stidham should be an improvement over Sean White at QB this season, this schedule seems too tough for Auburn to get over 9 wins. Also, there is so much hype around this Auburn team with Stidhman transferring in, but he has not been in a football game since November 2015, and only started three games that season, winning two. He is an unproven commodity despite the hype and there are just too many tough games on this schedule, especially an early game in Death Valley vs the defending National Champion Clemson Tigers.

Georgia: 9 (Under): The Bulldogs will be the popular pick to win the East this season but not here at Amateur Hour. Tough nonconference matchups at Notre Dame and at Georgia Tech pose a threat to Georgia’s record this season, and going on the road for Auburn and Tennessee both look challenging as well. Georgia could easily lose 3 of these games, and I think there will be another upset at home at some point, potentially against an underrated Miss State team Sep 23. Georgia gets 8 wins, go ahead and put it in stone.

LSU: 9 (Push): LSU should get average QB play from Danny Etling and Derrius Guice could be the best RB in the SEC this season. I like Coach O but I do not think this is the team that gets over the hump in the SEC West. 9 wins seems like the number for this team. They will split the tough road matchups against Tennessee and Florida and probably lose to Alabama as well. BYU and Auburn both present tough matchups and LSU has a tendency to get upset at least once a year.

Florida: 8 (Under): Florida has a lot of QBs to choose from, but I don’t feel great about any of them. Malik Zaire has been overrated his entire career and the world will finally see that this year at Florida, where I bet he loses his job before the season ends. This team also has to play Michigan and Florida State non-conference so I think 7 wins is the number for Florida this season, but they could go 5-3 in the SEC East which may get the job done if tiebreakers work out in their favor.

Tennessee: 7.5 (Over): Tennessee lost a lot of key players in Dobbs, Kamara, Sutton, Barnett, and Reeves-Maybin. However, Jones has more depth with this team than ever before, and I am optimistic about both QBs competing right now. Defense should be much improved from a year ago as they were decimated by injuries down the stretch last season. I think this team also goes 5-3 in the SEC, and they get to 8 or 9 wins. If this team wins less than 8 games, Jones is gone.

Texas A&M: 7.5 (Under): Like Tennessee, if A&M does not win 8 or 9 games, Sumlin will not be the coach next season. For whatever reason, QBs do not like playing for Sumlin ever since Manziel, and I think they will get subpar QB play again this year. This team could struggle to get to 7 wins this season. I think the under is a lock here.

Kentucky: 7 (Under): In no way does Kentucky get to 7 wins. Say what you want about how they are improved and there is a lot of reasons for optimism, but at the end of the day it is still Kentucky. This team does not even get to 6 wins, much less 7. This one is a gimme.

Arkansas: 6 (Over): I have always thought Arkansas has underachieved under Bret Bielema and it will be nice for him to have lower expectations going into the season. Austin Allen and Devwah Whaley should be a dynamic combo offensively, and I am expecting some level of improvement from the defense after several years of decline. This team gets to at least 7 wins.

Missouri: 6 (Under): There is no shot that this is a bowl team in my eyes. This university has been in disarray ever since their protests. Enrollment is down, team morale is down, I think this team wins 4 games.

Vandy: 6 (Push): Vandy will surprise some people this year, especially since they are returning a great RB in Ralph Webb and their starting QB Kyle Shurmur.  You know this team will play great defense for Derek Mason, so if they can get any consistency on the offensive side of the ball, this team will surprise a few people.

Ole Miss: 5.5 (Under): This team has next to no motivation for this season. They can’t play in a bowl game, and the recent allegations around Hugh Freeze may be the final straw for him. This team wins 4 or 5 games at most.

Mississippi State: 5 (Over): I love the over here for Mississippi State. Nick Fitzgerald is a freak athlete and is going to put up big numbers, but the defense remains a question mark. Mississippi State is going to have to win in shootout fashion, but I think they definitely get over 5 wins.

South Carolina: 5 (Over):  With another year of experience for should-have-been highschooler Jake Bentley, this team finds a way to get to bowl eligibilty. He is too talented of a player to not get to 6 wins, and there are definitely winnable games on this schedule.

-Head Intern Zach, Chief Social Media Officer (CSMO)